I mean, do you see the genius in that? Do you see how Modern Warfare 2 says something, and then unsays it, but in a way you might not notice, but also leaves the writers, developers, and the entity of Call of Duty an escape route from any accusations of intent or subjective belief? In a postmodern world of alternative facts and the end of the metanarrative, where it seems like there are no answers, truth, or anything you can fully believe in or trust, and everything shifts all the time, I think Modern Warfare 2 is a kind of masterpiece. And now I imagine them using that quote, “Modern Warfare 2 is a kind of masterpiece,” on a poster or something later on, and everything around it won’t matter.
The lack of caution occasionally leaves Little Red Lie feeling more like a rant than a cohesive drama, but also fuels the game's many, caustic insights. Will O'Neill is the rare example of a modern game-maker with something to say. And although not every word of it is trenchant, or even entertaining, it's all worth listening to.
The Surge also has an admirable interest in real-life and a rare anger that manifests in excellent scenes of violence. But as well as being racked with contradictions (not to be mistaken with nuances) its length and the genre conventions into which it so heavily leans dramatically undermine what could have been a potent satire.
At some point, it was decided horror games were more effective if they didn't involve combat; since then, they've flailed looking for ways to fill a now empty space, and a groundswell of aspiration, toward making videogames broadly about more than murdering for reward, has emboldened them. However, if the creators of horror games have silently, collectively agreed to redefine a genre, Outlast 2, packed with nonsense plot, engorged levels and frantic, anonymous bloodshed, feels like the definitive failure of their ambition. Don't be fooled by it, or its intent.
Massive, full and with a list of things to do which borders upon incessant, Forza Horizon 3 is a driving game both without direction and made by a studio seemingly – understandably – bored with cars. It isn't wholly different or worse than its predecessors, but after four years of these games, and with titles like DiRT Rally rediscovering the fundamental, basic thrills of racing simulations, Horizon 3 feels tired.
Accessible and routine, This Is The Police is simultaneously a rich video game and a poor depiction of its subject matter. Whether the game's creators welcome it or not, at times like these, when police officers in the US are under intense scrutiny, This Is the Police's representation of their work bears similarly close examination. By that measure it falls short of relevance and borders on removed.
Intelligent, fresh and endlessly enjoyable, Doom is more than a tribute to its beloved progenitor. Taken in its own right, this is the most finely crafted, technically impressive pure shooter in over a decade, proving that id Software, even after 26 years, is an adept, sophisticated game-maker.
What may seem like an ambitious project is in the fact the combination of a standard third-person shooter and the kind of cheap sci-fi drama you might find in the darkest corners of Sky TV. Visually tepid and filled with abortive gunfights and platforming, Quantum Break also struggles to contain its plot, while at the same time underselling its characters. Remedy's previous games have been characterised by a distinctive tone and knowing humour. By comparison Quantum Break is a glossy, charmless, wholly moderate outing.
Resident Evil Zero is a joyless game. Every section feels like a tedious lateral thinking puzzle – "the farmer has a fox, a chicken and some grain, but can only carry one at a time" – and the locations and creatures are half-heartedly designed. If you haven't played it, it provides valuable insight into where Resident Evil, and perhaps games at large, went wrong over the past decade or so. Other than that, it feels like work.
Just Cause 3 is an absolutely functional, totally pedestrian sandbox game which just so happens to launch at a time when the old models of open-world structure and design feel more overused than ever. Every standard issue, familiar mechanic and conceit is present here – if we needed one more argument for a new type of sandbox, one that doesn't prioritise or even feature the tropes and clichés we've come to expect, this is it. It's fine. It's there. It's benign. Even if you haven't played it, you've already played it.